Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Happiness You Can Only Find Through Faith

This was taken at Stake Conference a few weeks ago.  Jed loved conference because he was able to see members and companions from his first area in Durres.  This is the children of a family Jed and his trainer Elder Foster taught.  

 Hello my fellow Americans.

It's ridiculous (we actually just say diculous here because its not happening again like re-diculous) how fast the transfer has gone by! I only have one week in this transfer left and it quite possibly could be my last week in Tirana! If it's not, then that's fine too. But still it's been amazing at how much has happened since this last group of missionaries came to the country!

This week was good. Elder Eliason and I have been trying to become a little more efficient with our time. We actually had a really good training from Elder Tanner (Jed's favorite District Leader) on how we could do that. He shared the example of a guy who leaves his house to go fishing and he's away from his home for 12 hours but he only has his line in the water for 2 hours while he spends the other time doing other things. Like fussing around with his gear, walking to and fro from different places and other stuff which we would call Jargon or something like that. Another fisherman is away from his home for the same amount of time but he knows what he has to do and he has his line in the water for ten hours. Which one is going to find success? Po pra,(this means "Well Yes!") the latter is. So we really strived to have our line in the water for the 10 hours. We weren't met with lots of success but it made the success that we did find, that much sweeter. 

Elder Clawson during his morning study with his pet turtle Oatmeal.
Oatmeal didn't last long since pets are not allowed:)
We didn't get to meet with the boys this week, but I will tell ya something really cool that happened. This last Saturday we had a baptism in 2nd Branch. The sisters found this lovely lady named Mira about two months or so ago and she was being baptized by Elder Tanner this last Saturday. Elder Eliason and I had planned to meet an investigator at Taivani (the park where they do A LOT of contacting.) and walk with her to the baptism and show her where the church was and hopefully get her fellowshipped by a member. We went to Taivani about thirty minutes before the baptism started and we were standing there and our investigator wasn't showing up. It was about time to leave but we decided to stay for like 5 more minutes and then out of the blue I see this kid walk up to my left smiling super big. I looked over at him and it was Hermes! I know you have all been praying for us to have the opportunity to start teaching with these boys again and they have totally been helping. I talked with him for a little bit and found out that he finally found work moving furniture and they've been really busy with everything but they really wanna meet with us still and get baptized. I told them that we would see them this week after we talked with their friend Dori. 

That was definitely a testimony building experience for me. In every single one of my personal prayers and companionship prayers I've asked God for the opportunity to just see one of the boys before next Sunday. And honestly, right when my hope was dwindling into unbelief, Hermes shows up in the five minutes that we had left at Taivani. This means something. 

The Missionaries of the 2nd Ward.  I think this was at a restaurant that had great
American hamburgers according to Elder Eliason:)
Also, the investigator that we were meeting at Taivani actually just walked straight to the church, found a friend, and was already given a Book of Mormon, and was waiting for us when we came back for the baptism. HOLY GUACOMOLE COVERED COW!!!! The baptism went fantastic and the investigators name was Elda. Unfortunately we were only able to have one lesson with her before we realized that she lived in the 4th Ward area (Jed's in the 2nd Ward) so we had to hand her off to the other missionaries. That's the only thing that really bugs me about being in Tirana. I find lots of people while street contacting but they never live in 2nd Ward!! DAHH!!

We've had English course this week too and I'm actually teaching the Beginner Class with Elder Tanner and we have the two trainees teaching the Medium Class while the Sister's teach Advanced. We've found 5 investigators out of the two classes and we are really excited to see what happens with them. We teach them every Friday and Wednesday. It's fun and I learn more Albanian then they do English actually. 

Lately we've been working with a part member family. They have a 9 year old boy that isn't baptized yet because they want their son, who's in America, to do it. We don't know if he's actually coming back, so yeah we usually make a couple stops there every week to kinda emphasize the importance of being baptized. They're a really good family though so I think they will come to reason. 

Elder Iron Man

P-Day activity.  The found the greatest toy store on the planet!  Can you tell they're still just kids at times?
This week I saw Mira get baptized. I don't even know her that well but after she was baptized, I saw a happiness radiate from her that I couldn't describe. It wasn't a happiness that the world can give you, it was happiness that you can only find through faith. She exercised her faith in being baptized and she is already seeing the blessings of that. 

I FIXED MY HOUSE TOO!! I am no longer in search of a new shtëpi (apt.)  because I have repaired almost every problem in the home. It's very clean and pretty now. This week we also found a turtle. We had him for a couple days and then we realized we can't have pets as missionaries. We named him Oatmeal and I think it's a good thing that we found out we had to get rid of him because I think he was depressed. He just sat in a corner all day. And ate bread and every now and then we'd put him in the shower and let him drink some WATAHHH!!! We found him just chilling outside the church and this lady looked out her window and was like "That breshkë has been there for 4 days. Take it away!" When we found out we couldn't keep Oatmeal we sent him away. Now it's just back to me and Elder Eliason in the house. Kinda lonely. 

Well that's about it for the week. We're planning on having the best week ever this coming week!! But it's supposed to rain all week so maybe not. Ishalla Kismet.(means I hope so!) I'm glad everyone is alive and well. Tell Grandma Clawson hi for me. Tell The Southam's that Carter better not have supple white skin or else he will surely be TAKEN by the Mafia guys. That supple, white, American skin brings a high price. (I'm sure he's just kidding Southams!) And tell him to also get excited to have the biggest adventure of his life. I love you all!!

Love, Jed

Dear Mother, 
How many more ski days do you think you'll get in? And yes, you're right by saying we shoulda skipped school more often because I never got to skip school to go skiing with the family. Like I said, you love the younger children more. Just kidding. For some dumb reason I haven't gotten the package yet but I'm sure it'll get here. I love you and have fun in Powell!! Be safe!

Love, Tedediah, The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Monday, March 17, 2014

Way To Go Boys!

Hello Starshine! The Earth says "Hello!" 

Well this was the week that Elder Eliason took control of 2nd Ward!! (yes, due to the new formation of the Albania Tirana Stake, I am now serving in a ward.) And even though it wasn't the most successful week,(not due to Elder Eliason) we still had some good experiences that helped us grow and we felt accomplished at the weeks end. 

So the week started out with us going to the church Monday night to find Hermes and Fatjon. (the 2 young men Jed and Elder Eliason have been teaching.) Only Fatjon was at the church so we decided to take him to the Institute Building and got him introduced to the Winders (A senior couple who are kind of like the best grandparents to all the missionaries, and youth in Albania!)and all of the other kids that were there having a blast. Unfortunately he couldn't stay for the whole time because he had another appointment. Right as we were leaving I got a call from a couple of the 4th Ward Elders saying that Hermes was at the church waiting for someone. Albanians are always late! But hey that's okay because sometimes I'm late too. (Um can I just say as Elder Clawson's mother that he was ALWAYS late to everything!)

Missionaries with their Day of Summer bracelets they made.  Mar. 14th is the day the Albanians celebrate the coming of Summer.  It's  called Day of Summer or Albanian Summer Festival.
We went back to the church and helped Fatjon on his way. We stayed at the church and talked with Hermes for a little bit. We asked if we could show him where the Institute Center was and he said that he couldn't make it all the way there because he was having some problems with his feet. I guess his shoes had been hurting him for awhile and it had gotten so bad that he was walking with a limp. He described the inside of his shoes as a "salad". I don't know exactly what that means, but from my personal perspective, I don't think it'd be the funnest thing to be walking around on salad all day. At that moment, I remembered that either Elder Anderson or Elder Matson (2 previous companions who have both returned home now.  Thanks Elder Matson and Anderson!) had left a pair of shoes in the house that looked like they were the same size as Hermes' feet. So we ran to my house and got the pair of shoes and then we ran back and gave them to Hermes. We shared a spiritual thought and then he left to get to his house. He said that words couldn't express the gratitude that was in his heart. We had set up a lesson for the next day with them at the church. 

Can you tell these boys are still only 18 years old.  Sometimes I'm amazed at what they do as missionaries, and then other times I'm reminded they are still adorable teenagers:)  This is just a little peak at their P-Day activity today.

Unfortunately the next day we waited for about half an hour before I went to Taivani on a split with Elder Tanner. We had plans to meet another investigator. All in all, the Taivani investigator didn't show up and neither did the boys. And it hard because neither of them have phones so we have no way of contacting them. I was hoping that we would see them at church yesterday but unfortunately they didn't come. Hopefully next week!! 

Elder Eliason did a fantastic job this week in leading the lessons that we had, and in leading all of the planning situations. I think he is ready to leave his Master. Master Jedi Clawson. 

Yes, I got sick this last week. I was smashed with a really bad cold that had me laid out early Wednesday night until the next day when I sought a blessing from Elder Eliason and Elder Tanner. I got a blessing because I've actually been sick a lot recently. I didn't wanna say anything last week, but I got a case of bad food poisoning and I was throwing up for a couple of days. But I'm all better now!! I requested that my blessing be given in Albanian, seeing as Elder Eliason hadn't given an Albanian blessing before. He did a fantastic job and I was very proud of him. 

Smores Albanian style.  I don't see any chocolate or grahams though:)
Saturday, I was on a split with Elder Baldwin in his area. We waited on some lessons that never showed up and we also had some member lessons. We met with one guy that I've met with a lot before. It was Elder Baldwin's second time meeting with him so it was good to get to talk to him again. He talks to me about the Tour de France, Super Bike Racing, mountain biking events, and all kinds of other things. Then he asked us to give him just a blessing of comfort. Elder Baldwin gave it to him and he did a great job as well. WAY TO GO BOYS!! 

(This is just some sad family news. Just dogs, but a big part of Jed's life growing up.  You can skip the gory details.)I will say that a lot of the letters that I got this week were kinda sad and dreary. I'm sorry to hear Annie passed away. I think you guys loved her more than you loved Gus by the way you talk about her. But yes, you should probably put Lucy down if she's not feeling great. I give you permission. Even though she and Gus were basically 2 large pieces of my childhood and it breaks my heart to have them both leave, she shouldn't be suffering. I remember the morning we got Gus and the night we got Lucy! And then I remember that one ridiculous time where Gus got that palsey thing in his face and he looked so funny! Good times. 

Jed's district today for P-Day.  They went to Kruje Castle

This week I saw how the Spirit of the Lord works through his called servants. Elder Eliason really was strengthened this week and it was amazing to see. I've seen a change in myself and almost all of the other missionaries that were in the MTC with me. They've become hard workers, good friends, and fantastic missionaries. It's pretty cool. 

I love you all very much and I hope you enjoy this coming week!

Love, Jed

Dear Mom,

Well I don't think the boys(Fatji and Hermes) are getting baptized at the end of the month. They would need their interview this week and they still haven't received all of the lessons. Hopefully we can find a way to get in contact with them. By the way, I'm moving out of my house because we've been having some problems with the one we live in right now. Like someone stole our door handle, the hot water leaks everywhere, the shower leaks like no one's business, and our faucet blew up on Saturday night. We're planning on being in a new house within 48 hours. One of the benefits of getting a new house in Albania. 

Love ya tons! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

We Have God

Missionaries headed to the organization of the first stake in Albania!  Don't they all
look great in their red ties:)
Hello Family!

Well I'm stoked to hear that you had a really good time water skiing! The weather here is starting to feel like summer and I've been ridiculously trunky over biking lately! I HATE IT!! Why can't my mission ride bikes?!

Big news first! So yeah yesterday the Tirana, Albania Stake was formed!! The first stake in the Balkans!! Elder Kearon of the Seventy came and organized the new stake, along with another Area Authority named Elder Charles. They're both really fun guys and I got to talk to both of them a bit on Saturday when they were having a meeting with all of the Priesthood Holders.
Yesterday I got a call at about 8:30 from my Zone Leaders saying that all the Tirana Missionaries had to hussle their bunions down to the Pallati i Kongreseve, which is where we were all meeting to form the stake. It's kinda just like a huge auditorium and stuff. So we ran down to the place and found out that we just had to guide people to the doors and what not. The young men were supposed to do it, but Albanian young men can kinda slack off every now and then, just like every other group of young men in the entire world. It's just how it works:) 

The Elder's and the Sister's with one of the sister's investigators.
We guided people and stuff and we were pulling in stragglers in til about 10:50ish. And the meeting started at 10. Needless to say I missed a lot. I missed all of the new callings for people who will be serving in the bishoprics, who's gonna be the new stake president, and other things that were cool. So I came in and I got to listen to Sister and President Ford speak for about 15 minutes and then I got a call from the sisters saying that my investigators were standing outside waiting for me to come and get them. I went outside, found them and then the sisters asked me to go find their investigator who was down at the center of the city. I went with my companion, Hermes, and Fatjon (2 young men Jed's been teaching) and we booked it down to the center and found the sisters investigator.
Needless to say, I missed all of the meeting. I was very sad. Destroyed actually. But the good part was, I got to see all of the missionaries that I've missed and all of the people from Durrës!! I saw Esnajder on Sat. night right after I sang at the Cultural Event, and then I saw the Pjetri Daughters at the conference. So that was really fun.
Hermes and Fatjon are doing lovely. We're now teaching one of their friends named Musa. He's a lot like them but I don't think he's Albanian by origin so I'll ask him that when we meet with him again. Last night we taught the Word of Wisdom to them and they promised us that they would be trying so hard to not do those things. Smoking is hard for them and coffee but we told them that they could save a ton of money if they didn't buy those things and that statement really brightened their day.
After the lesson I was talking with Fatjon and I asked him if he is praying and he looked at me and told me that every morning when he and Hermes wake up, they get together and they pray. And then right before they go to bed at night, they pray. Then he said "Because now, (as he flicks the Word of Wisdom pamphlet) We have God!"
Obviously we are very excited for these boys. They are doing fantastic and progressing beautifully. I'm so happy to be teaching them. 
P-Day activities.  
Sorry the pics not great, but these two boys are some of Jed's favorite people.  Evi and Sam were both baptized just recently, and are doing fantastic!
This week is Week 11 of the training program for new missionaries. It's the week that Elder Eliason is basically by himself. I just sit back and let him take the reigns. I let him plan, he leads lessons, and I act like a trainee basically. I'm excited to see if he's ready. I think he is. 

I'll talk a bit about the cultural event this last saturday. I sang with all of the other missionaries in Tirana and there were some other little talks given and some more songs sung by a choir. And then JULIAN GJOJDESHI sang!! (Julian was the first baptism Jed was involved with when he first got to Albania.) I was smiling from ear to ear when I heard him sing. He's way good and all the people in the place were bawling like little babies. I talked with Julian a bit afterwards and we had a few laughs. Everyone from Durrës is so impressed with my language now cuz I was pretty awful when I was in Durres with Elder Foster.
Organization of the first stake in Albania!
I did see one miracle this week. When I saw all of the people from all over Albania come together to celebrate the formation of a stake after only 20 years of being introduced to the gospel, I saw the blessings that come into our lives by means of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is how the human race can find pure joy. I love this gospel, I love these people, and I love being here helping build the Kingdom of God!!

Well, that's about it for this week. I love you all and I miss you like Wolverine misses his memory! Thanks for the support. I hope all is well with everyone's health and stuff.
Love, Jedediah

Dear Mom,
Why didn't you go skiing?! Gators don't eat people. How's the new website going? It looks great. How's the new dog? I guess she's not that new anymore but you get what I mean. I love you so much and thanks a buttload for sending me the emails every week!
Love, Jed

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Any Prayer That Comes From Your Heart Is PERFECT

Elder Clawson and Elder Eliason with the 2 young men they are teaching
Hello Family!

Well I had a fantastic week with Elder Eliason!! It sounds like a lot of exciting stuff is happening back there in Utah too!
The week started like usual. P-Day ended last week, and we had a good lesson that night with a recent convert. The next day we had our usual district meeting and that was wonderful as well. Elder Tanner is still holding the position of my favorite District Leader! So after we had that, we had a lesson with my main man, Evi. He's doing so well! I'm so glad that he's progressed the way he has because it's so hard for young men here to stay focused on the gospel. They are constantly surrounded by friends that are smoking, drinking hardcore, or looking for girls 24/7. And Sam is also doing great. They really enjoy coming to church and preparing and passing the sacrament together. One thing that makes me sad is when I see less active members, or youth, that aren't as active as they could be. Out in the streets doing things they shouldn't, or cat calling some girl. I just wanna sing "IT'S A, IT'S A, IT'S A....... IT'S A SIN!" (Insert Voice of Pet Shop Boys)

Later that night, we had a lesson with the 2 young men that we met in church last Sunday. (Remember, they just showed up at church wanting to be taught!) Only two of them came but I wasn't about to complain seeing as I haven't taught a whole lot of new investigators. The boys names are Hermes and Fatjon. They are both fantastic young men that have just had really rough lives. They haven't ever been given a break. Hermes is 20 years old and Fati is 17 years old even though he looks like he's 25. Fati's parents both died when he was very young and Hermes' mother passed away shortly after his birth and his father gave him up to the orphanage. That's where they became best friends. 

Elder Clawson with a member in their congregation.

When they were old enough that they had to leave the orphanage, they decided that they just wanted to serve people. So they have jobs, but they spend almost all of their free time serving at the orphanage with the kids, or with the gypsy kids that don't have any clothes or any food. They are just awesome boys!! They were introduced to the church by a member named Doriada who met them a little while back. They were interested to hear that our church really emphasized a point on service a lot of the time and that really peaked their interest. They found out that there was a form of service that youth did called "serving a mission" and they wanted to know how they could do that. They definitely came to the right people.

We taught them that night about the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And they just ate it up. We asked them if they would be baptized when they came to know that these things were true. (We've been challenged by President Ford to invite investigators to baptism on the first lesson and he promised us that we would see blessings in our work.) And they said yes! President Ford was right when he said we would be blessed by inviting them on the first lesson. We were stoked for them! We met with them again on Friday night and we taught them about the Plan of Salvation. This lesson was awesome as well. Hermes asked tons of good questions that we were happy to answer for him. He asked where would we be if Adam and Eve hadn't eaten the Apple? Do we all go to the same place when we die? Were we all together before this life? Golden Questions for Golden Investigators! And at the end of the lesson, Hermes gave the closing prayer and he was way nervous about it. But he did fantastic job and we were so proud of him for praying in front of us.

The next lesson that we had with them was actually yesterday right after church. We didn't have quite enough time to finish the whole Plan of Salvation lesson, so we finished that up and started on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They had great questions about that segment too.  Before we closed that lesson we told them how baptism was a key ordinance that we needed in order to live with our Heavenly Father, and then we asked them if they would prepare to be baptized at the end of March. They both said "HECK YES!" (not really but it was basically just as awesome) and then Fati gave the closing prayer for us. It was the second prayer that he had given in his whole life and he did fabulous. Any prayer that comes from your heart, is perfect.
We've also met with a couple part member families and those have been great as well. We meet with the Hoxha Family and their son is actually Vëllai Hoxha who teaches Albanian in the MTC (The Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT). I've never met him but almost all the missionaries in Albania know him. They have one little boy that's not baptized that we really want to join his family. We also visited one of the families of the 1st councilor in the branch presidency. Vëllai Shima is his name and he is awesome. His wife isn't a member but she would be a fantastic one if she was. The sisters are trying to work on her and we have hopes for her as well. Their son looks just like Brandon Flowers.(A singer Jed thinks is pretty awesome!) So yes, I love him. 
Jed during yesterday's P-day in Skenderbej Square in the center of Tirana, eating his favorite Byrek, and feeling VERY European he said. 

The first Albanian Stake is getting organized this week too!! We are all so stoked to be a part of it! We get to sing "Called to Serve" in Albanian at the Cultural Festival thing that they have before they organize the stake. Pretty exctied for that. Elder Patrick Kearon is coming to organize the stake. I guess he and President Ford are pretty tight and what not. Like so tight, Elder Kearon calls him, Andrew. Whoa.

Well that's about it for this week. I love you all and I hope you enjoy this week. It's starting to warm up slowly here. I'm safe, healthy, and very happy. One cool thing that I saw this week with Fati and Hermes, was the power that the Book of Mormon has. I know there's lots of people who are skeptical about it and think it's just some book from another religion. But from my own reading and studying, I know that it is the word of God. I've seen how the knowledge of knowing it's truthfulness has changed people. They see that God is still here today to help us. He's not going to let us wander in the dark. The Book of Mormon- Another Testament of Jesus Christ,is the light that we need in this world at this time. If you haven't read it, I think you should. It's fantastic! 
I love you guys!!

Love, Elder Jedediah "The Gunslinger" Clawson
Dear Mother,

 I love being here.  But yeah transfers are coming up really soon. I have no idea what's going to happen to me. I did have a general idea that I would be staying in Tirana when we had transfers last time but I did not think I would be training. I'm kinda hoping I get taken out of Tirana. Kosovo would be really cool, but every single missionary wants to go up there so my chances aren't fabulous. From what others think and from what I think, I'll probably stay in 2nd Branch. BUT WHO KNOWS?! I'll go where I need to. I got told to F- Off this last week too by some homeless guy. Love my street contacting time. Well, I will simply say that you are the most fantastic mother every. I love you so much and I hope you have fun in Florida this week with Dad and the Adams!! Ski it up!